ReardonSmith Architects completes JW Marriott Absheron Baku, Azerbaijan

The JW Marriott Absheron hotel designed by ReardonSmith Architects opened in Baku.

An existing Absheron hotel was demolished to make way for the new more modern building constructed on the approximate footprint of the old hotel. The previous façade allow for an increase in the landscaped elements of the development to create an oasis-type environment.

The property is part of a high-rise mixed-use development comprising 16 floors of private residences, serviced apartments, retail and offices, as well as the 23-story hotel – all of which have been designed by ReardonSmith Architects.

The building is adjacent to Government House and overlooks Baku’s Azadliq (Freedom) Square.

The contemporary building is sited on a formal axis within a newly landscaped park, relating to and reflecting the Azadliq Square. The park flows into gardens and these rise up a stepped incline providing a ceremonial promenade through a landscaped urban garden to the restaurant terraces and onto the entrance to the restaurants, bars and function spaces at first upper floor level. The outdoor area also creates a tiered seating amenity from which to watch the square. The main hotel entrance is placed to the opposite, east-facing façade.

Inside, the public areas contain double-height volumes, glazed elements and staircases to create a linking of lobbies, pre-function areas, ballroom, restaurants and bars. The property's column-free ballroom is over 12,916 square feet.


The “Great Room” has been created by bringing together the ground floor reception areas to the east of the hotel with the first upper level bars and restaurants to the west, the structural design of which, sitting below a 21-story building, had to be carefully considered in order to create a flexible hub. For this, transfer trusses have been introduced to allow the central columns to be grouped, creating a gravitas that responds directly to the architecture of Azadliq Square.

The brief also required that all the residences would have views over the Caspian Sea and that visual clutter, such as car parking, was to be resolved. At over 78 feet below sea level, excavation was restricted, allowing only for a single basement level that would be needed for car parking. Operating plant has therefore been housed on the ground floor within the podium. The additional concept requirement of hotel entry, reception and concierge on ground level to the east side, gave logic to elevating wining and dining areas to the first upper floor with the advantage of giving these spaces views onto the square and affording views of the Caspian Sea beyond.

The total building form has been described as dramatic, with the residences and serviced apartments segregated in two oval balconied “wings” that frame the central fully-glazed component, crowned by a roof that curves in its own plane. The impression is of a building that appears to be fluid and in motion.

The façade is 50 percent glass, coated and triple glazed for energy efficiency with perforated trusses introduced at podium level to stabilize the fascia against Baku’s high winds. A balance of horizontal and vertical elements creates rhythm to the building, while the cast stone panels and frameless glazed elements have been assembled in a minimal manner to ensure simplicity of construction and appearance.

The JW Marriott Absheron has 243 guestrooms and suites, ranging upwards in size from over 430 square feet. There is also a double height rooftop pool hall and spa.


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